08/01/2014 08:22 am ET Updated Oct 01, 2014

It Takes Me 23 Hours to Wake Up Refreshed

I'm not a morning person. Never have been. Take away my clock and I will stay up two or three hours after midnight and get up mid-morning. I love the peacefulness of the night. Everyone is asleep, it's quiet and too late for the noisy vacuum. My time, my peace.

But that's not a reasonable schedule for someone who gets to work at 7:30... a.m.! I've fought my body clock for years and, for much of my adult life, didn't get enough sleep. I just wasn't tired enough, or ready, to get to bed at a reasonable hour. And I really didn't want to. Finally a solution and, though it takes me 23 hours of preparation to get up ready and refreshed, it's working for me.

Most of us compartmentalize our day. Getting up and out -- morning work -- lunch -- afternoon work -- dinner and evening time -- sleep. All separate parts of a day. But that isn't the case. A day is a continuous stream of time, and what you do in one part carries on into the next. Though a continuous stream, I've found that being mindful of the transitions and what is following me to the next phase can be helpful to moving the day along in a positive way, and actually help me to get to sleep earlier and easier. Let me explain.

Like many, I wake, shower, have breakfast and get ready to leave for work. Hopefully, I've had a good night's sleep and am ready for the day. Before I leave, however, I start to get ready for bed. My bed is made, my room straightened -- all the clothes I tried on but decided against hung back in the closet. I leave my room how I want to find it at bedtime. Now, I'm ready for the next step.

If I haven't had a good night's sleep and wake up tired and/or crabby, I'll probably take that mood with me out the door and the odds of shedding it by the time I get to work aren't good. Feeling refreshed allows me to better handle the difficult things and people that fling themselves my way during the day.

For those of us who eat at our desk, it usually doesn't feel as if we've had any mid-day respite at all. So, before I eat lunch, I try to take a quick walk around the block or at least get away from my desk and stretch my legs. I move all work off to the side of my desk and, if possible, shut off the computer monitor while I eat a healthy meal that will sustain me throughout the afternoon. Surfing the Net doesn't work for me during lunch because work messages and alerts pop up around my shopping sites. No fun. I'd rather shop interrupted at home. Besides, my eyes could use a break from the screen.

Lunch done, desk cleared of crumbs, it's time to move on, and work shifts back to the center of the desk and the day continues. As the hour to leave approaches, it's time to take a stress inventory and focus on getting the day's conflicts resolved while there's still time. What is hanging over you will follow you home, an unwelcome guest, at best. When it's almost time to leave, I repeat my leaving-home exercise and try to leave my desk that way I would like to see it when I return -- mostly cleared off, projects in folders, stacked off to the side or in a drawer.

Whatever I do in the evenings, home or out, I eat and drink sensibly and don't wait until I'm exhausted before getting ready for bed. I try to maintain the calm I've been nurturing all day. For bedtime, I take my cues from a toddler. Put the toys away, take a warm bath/shower, put on my bed clothes and go straight to my uncluttered and peaceful room. Read a little. Good night kiss. Sweet dreams.

You take your day to bed with you every night. Make sure it's company that will help you wake refreshed.

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